Using digital services should be as easy as driving a car

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A frictionless digital experience is not just about doing something quickly; it's about securely completing a task without puzzling over the details.

When designing products for that kind of experience, I think about driving my car. Driving is fairly complicated, involving numerous controls and variables, but we do it almost unconsciously, easily making decisions and exercising control over the vehicle. But when we get in a rental car with a subtly different set of controls my experience suddenly changes. We trip up on tasks as simple as starting the engine. That's cognitive friction.

Digital experience works much the same way. When things go well, we're able to quickly finish tasks without thinking much about what we're doing. On the flip side, if the user interface is difficult or new, we can get frustrated and even put ourselves in a difficult situation. Perhaps it wouldn't be as dangerous as driving on the freeway while trying to figure out the windshield wipers, but we could inadvertently make a mortgage payment twice.
Designing the user experience consumers expect is less about seeing what sticks and more about seeing what stands up to real-world human examination and use. Through user experience benchmarking, a digital product's progress can be tested over time. Is the product effective at allowing people to efficiently complete tasks? Do people think it's easy to use?

Measuring key performance indicators can help identify friction points, improve ease of use and deliver a responsive digital user experience that positively affects how a financial institution is perceived. To ensure people have the tools to efficiently, intuitively and successfully manage their money, here are a few key considerations:

Provide value to the end user. How value in is defined may vary from one user to the next. For some, it's the immediate financial insight that comes from real-time account balances. Others may point to a streamlined, paperless bill pay experience, P-to-P payments, instant balances without logging in or access to credit scores in online banking.

Make it easy to use. How easy is it to get the value? Biometric authentication, for example, improves security and removes the friction of remembering a password. Moving P-to-P payments to the online bill pay interface provides easy access to another way to pay someone. And enhancing the browser application makes it more responsive for people who don't want to download an app or are not on their own device.

Contribute to a positive emotional experience. Being able to quickly and easily manage financial tasks, such as paying bills, checking balances or transferring funds, brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. When a process works as it should while avoiding friction, people can complete tasks without anxiety or tension.

Removing friction across channels and payment types not only leads to a transformative digital banking experience, it also helps ensure those positive outcomes translate to business success for financial institutions. Whether navigating mobile or online banking, paying a bill, transferring funds or securing a loan, users who encounter pain points and friction may abandon the task and possibly find another more intuitive, innovative option for managing their finances.

People will note when they can easily use self-service tools to quickly manage their money. Many of those living paycheck to paycheck will appreciate the tools you provide to keep them from being overdrawn, and others will remember the products and services that helped them learn what it means to be financially healthy.

Listen to your customers and members. Ask them how they're using your products and services. Talk to your support staff. Work with your financial services provider to remove friction across channels and payment types. Provide a digital banking experience that offers the same confidence and comfort you feel getting behind the wheel every morning.

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